Here are today’s favorite reads:

• Foreclosures crush home prices (CNN Money) See also Federal Retreat on Bigger Loans Rattles Housing (NY Times)
• The theory of rockets and parachutes: a primer on US gasoline prices (The Barrel)
• What the Mafia teaches about fiscal policy (Olaf Storbeck)
• The Bond Vigilante (The Atlantic)
• Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education (The Nation)
• The great corporate tax swindle (Guardian)
• A Crude Guess About The Future (Freakonomics)
• Unspoken Truths (Vanity Fair)
• Trader Joe’s Joe: Joe Coulombe (LA Times)
• Is College a Rotten Investment? (Slate)
• The Tragedy of Sarah Palin (The Atlantic) In Alaska, she was a bi-partisan legislator who focused on the states’ problems. What went wrong?

What are you reading?

Category: Financial Press

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

29 Responses to “Friday Reads”

  1. rktbrkr says:

    Ben is succeeding, “transitory” inflation in food energy & commodities is flowing into everything, jeez this is great news, who needs real job creation -at least we can celebrate inflation. Make him man of year again!

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-13/u-s-consumer-prices-increased-0-4-in-april-on-gains-in-fuel-food-costs.html

  2. JerseyCynic says:

    I’m waiting to read Kissinger’s “On China”

    caught a portion of it on npr yesterday. ashbrook asked some good questions

    (his voice is very painful voice to listen to — 88-y-0 — wish there was a transcript — commenters crucified him)
    http://onpoint.wbur.org/2011/05/12/kissinger-on-china#comments

  3. machinehead says:

    In BR’s list of eleven linked articles, two are tartly negative articles about higher education.

    Turns out that when formerly respected institutions habitually use deceptive marketing, and lure teenagers into indentured servitude with loans which can’t be discharged in bankruptcy, the serfs eventually wise up and fight back.

    Meanwhile, in its 22nd year of Ivy League governance in the White House, the US economy continues its relentless decay. Coincidence? I reckon not!

  4. JerseyCynic says:

    “……In Gore Vidal’s memoir “Palimpsest”, he tells of meeting Kissinger’s older brother at a party and talking with him for a while. Suddenly it dawned on Vidal that, although the man was Kissinger’s OLDER brother, he spoke with no discernable accent. (Usually, the older the person is when immigrating, the stronger the trace.) He asked him about it, and was told “That’s because Henry never listens to anyone”.

    “….One of Vidal’s pet aversions is Henry Kissinger, who is described looking at the Hell section of Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” in Rome. “Look, he’s apartment hunting,” says Vidal.

    clarence ´´ frogman´´ henry aint got no home
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atCwKBeq76w&feature=related

  5. JerseyCynic says:

    @machinehead

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-06/washington-post-profit-declines-67-as-kaplan-education-enrollment-drops.html

    In 2009 Kaplan, Inc. accounted for 58 percent of the Washington Post Company’s revenue.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide/blog/kaplan_excuses.php

    Looks like folks are wising up – let’s hope.

  6. JerseyCynic,

    note, here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2wET1OlK4Q

    R.E.M.’s ‘Exhuming McCarthy’

    re: Kissinger

    “Enemy sighted, Enemy met, I’m addressing a Realpolitik..”

    LSS: McCarthy isn’t the only one that needs to “Exhumed” …
    ~~~

    SmartGrid as ‘Matrix’ (?) woocoodanode?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/05/12/the-smartmeter-backfiring-privacy-issue/
    ~~~

    Japan’s ‘Fukushima’-situation is more serious that the MSM is letting on (?)
    http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2011/05/12/japan-finally-admits-nuclear-meltdown-fukushima-nuclear-plant-22668/

    or, w/ http://search.yippy.com/search?input-form=clusty-simple&v%3Asources=webplus&v%3Aproject=clusty&query=EPA+halts+reporting+of+daily+radiation+levels
    is it deeper than, just, the MSM (?)

  7. Doug Casey: Government Policies Distort Markets; ‘Printing More Money’ To Mean Inflation

    http://www.kitco.com/reports/KitcoNews20110510AS_interview.html

    YouTube – Movies

    This is very cool! You tube has built a movie section. There are a ton of movies in here. This is great! Check out the classics section. Some quality movies in there. Many Hitchcock. There is Mikey Spillane doing his Mike Hammer character in the mystery section for those that want to meet the author and relive the early 60′s. I like to see these things just for the culture warp and revisit yesteryear.

    I can’t remember if I posted this here so forgive me for the rerun

    http://www.youtube.com/movies?feature=mh

  8. SivBum says:

    In Silicon Valley, the old-new limit would reset back to $625.5K which is probably about right for a $1M home with 40% down.

  9. James says:

    Some nice reads.

    When I was a young grad student in mathematics years ago, I posted an article on the department bulletin board that discussed the poor job market for math PhDs. The very next day it had been removed – and I very quickly realized that higher ed was more than just about educating.

    This year we ‘re finishing sending the second of our two daughters to private colleges. After years of relentless hikes that sent total yearly fees busting through 50K last year despite the economy, we too found ourselves asking just how much a good education is worth or, for that matter, what is a good education.

  10. beaufou says:

    Be a tree after you die:

    http://bigthink.com/ideas/38299

  11. MorticiaA says:

    Finalists in the Best Illusion of the Year Contest.

    http://illusioncontest.neuralcorrelate.com/2011-top-10-finalists/

  12. Clem Stone says:

    College is a continuing bubble/scam perpetuated by all the parents who feel pressured into supplying their child with the same worthless degree that the neighbor’s kid is getting. It’s similar to the BS spewed by corporations re: CEO pay….”Well, we just have to pay the price or else we’ll fall behind.” There needs to be a wholesale beatdown of this attitude. College institutions are modern day dinosaurs in dire need of an incoming asteroid.

  13. NeutralObserver says:

    Bank Fraud: BILL BLACK is Associate Professor of Economics and Law at University of Missouri, Kansas City. Bill cleaned up the S&L mess (Litigation Director of Fed Home Loan Bank Board) and reregulated the S&L industry during the Reagan years. Over 1000 felony bank fraud convictions until Clinton shut it down. Bill explains the whole corruption story of the banking industry today on Harry Shearer’s show (Yves Smith was on a few weeks ago). Listen or download here:
    http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/ls/ls110501le_show_-_may_01_201

    Also, some laughs:
    http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2011/04/30/you-gotta-laugh/

    Blood boiling reportage The People vs. Goldman Sachs:
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-people-vs-goldman-sachs-20110511

  14. AHodge says:

    this opinion yesterday by the Second Circuit holding that Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings can’t be held liable for their ratings of of mortgage-backed securities. (Here’s a report from WSJ and one from the D&O Diary.)

    http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2011/05/12/wanna-blame-the-financial-crisis-on-the-rating-agencies-too-bad-says-2nd-cir?mod=djemlawblog_t

  15. No FED in that contest MorticiaA? ;)

  16. machinehead says:

    @Clem Stone

    Just when you thought the ethical sleazepit of academia couldn’t go any lower, right on schedule appears a fresh article that didn’t make the deadline for Barry’s list:

    ————

    May 13 (Bloomberg) — Nicole Ederer was delighted when Columbia University and Duke University wooed her with e-mails and letters after she scored 214 out of 240 on her preliminary SAT college entrance exam junior year.

    She spent about $780 on 12 applications after mailings from top schools like Duke, which sent a wall poster. [But] she was rejected from Duke, Columbia and Cornell, and plans to attend the University of Maryland.

    “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, someone is interested in me,’” Ederer said in an interview. “They attract you with an e-mail and a few pamphlets and big envelopes filled with a ton of information and make you want to go to that school, and they don’t accept you.”

    The deluge of correspondence from even the most hard-to- get-into colleges is raising false expectations among thousands of students, swelling school coffers with application fees as high as $90 apiece and making colleges seem more selective by soliciting and then rejecting applicants.

    Consumer groups said that the nonprofit College Board, which owns the SAT college admission test, and its nonprofit rival, ACT Inc., are making money by selling personal details about teenagers. The companies collect information on millions of test takers and both sell names and information to colleges at 33 cents a name.

    http://noir.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601010&sid=a42cwwOxRZ6Y

    Isn’t it about time to indict Harvard’s gangster management for racketeering? After all, their business model is built on: (1) deceptive marketing; (2) mail fraud, and (3) loan sharking.

  17. DeDude says:

    This is a real beauty http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/05/the-chart-that-should-accompany-every-discussion-of-deficits/238786/

    And a nice little social security reality check, although 6 years old still relevant as the GOP scare tactics remain the same http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/social_security_lies.htm

  18. The Last Great Opportunity in Silver and Platinum?

    We noted in previous articles that COMEX has been serially increasing margin requirements for holding silver futures contracts. This has happened three times in the last nine days now. Although some commenters claim that the hikes are happening because of the need to maintain leverage to a fast rising silver price, it was done, yet again, on May 2, 2011, when prices fell.

    According to an article published in Zero Hedge, we’ve learned that MF Global hiked silver margins way beyond the official level, to roughly $25k per contract. Similarly, ThinkorSwim has raised margin requirements on SI $30,037.50 and $6,007.50 for the smaller 1,000 ounce contract? That is about two and a half times what the margin requirement was prior to last Friday’s official COMEX performance bond increase. We have not been able to independently confirm this increase, but Zero Hedge has been accurate in the past.

    If this is being done at those two broker-dealers, it is probable that the same thing is going to be done by many other futures dealers. MF Global is a very big futures broker and a big clearing member of the CME Group. ThinkorSwim is a broker which uses the services of a major futures clearing broker-agent who services retail brokerage houses. The ThinkorSwim margin requirement levels will be duplicated at dozens of other brokerages which use the same clearing house. We cannot help but wonder whether the proprietary trading divisions of MF Global and the clearing broker being used by ThinkorSwim are short silver? We don’t know at at the moment, but it would be very interesting to find out.

    Investors who do not want to be flushed out of their positions by an unexpected margin call need to regularly inquire with their brokers because, as the price continues rising, the margins are being constantly changed. The remaining open interest in silver would be inconsequential in normal times. However, right now, the demand for physical silver is so high and the inventory is so low that intense pressure is being put upon the silvers futures market. We tend to think that the real battle is in the form of OTC delivery demands being made upon London based dealers. To meet those demands, we are seeing, and we will continue to see financial institutions that participate in the ETF SLV continue to cash in their shares in exchange for baskets of physical silver. In our view, the reduction in the size of SLV’s holdings is a result of this process and not any form of exit by average investors.

    We don’t know what is motivating the clearing brokers to dramatically raise performance bonds. The raises can only be justified if they were being applied to short sellers and new buyers who are buying their positions at the current prices. But they are being applied to all long buyers, including those who may have bought when the price was half of what it is now. We do know that these actions have but one effect. They force a transient long liquidation of silver futures positions, and that is exactly what happened on May 2, 2011. They drive down the so-called “spot” price for silver in a transient manner. This has also happened.

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/267531-the-last-great-opportunity-in-silver-and-platinum

  19. MorticiaA says:

    @beaufou, re Trump article:

    I’m not sure what I find creepier: that Trump is bilking people or that so many people adore him so much that they buy stuff just b/c it has his name on it.

    Of course, I also can’t figure out why just because Oprah says she likes a book that it suddenly appears on the NYT bestseller list.

    Sheeple.

    This leads me to another topic elsewhere on TBP: the discussion about the worth of an education. A good education is one that teaches students to THINK FOR THEMSELVES. Our education system is moving away from that direction, quickly, encouraged by policies like No Child Left Behind.

  20. druce says:

    Wouldn’t write off that college diploma yet….Unemployment rate by educational status:

    College grads: 4.5%
    Some college: 7.5%
    High school grads: 9.7%
    HS dropouts 14.6%.

    College is expensive and inefficient, but not sure we’ve arrived at a point yet where I would advise a kid to skip it, or advise most companies they’re better off hiring smart non-college grads.

    Some charts -

    http://www.deptofnumbers.com/unemployment/demographics/
    http://www.offthechartsblog.org/today%E2%80%99s-jobs-report-in-pictures-8/

  21. druce says:

    that silver discussion is off the mark… if the price falls from over 47 to under 43 over two days, as it did as of May 2, what is an appropriate level of margin to protect brokers from customers going negative, and customers from getting sold out before they can rustle up a margin call? And if you bought a long time ago, you have big profits and plenty of excess margin. (unless you pyramided or took out profits, in which case your risk profile is the same as a new buyer) If the market is that dependent on retail buyers who are that close to the edge, there aren’t a lot of strong holders and it’s at risk of going down.

  22. beaufou says:

    Morticia,
    an estimated 5% of the population are free thinkers, it leaves you with a 95% chance of being frustrated with the NYT bestsellers list, publishing houses buy a million copies themselves or lobbyists and partisan hacks, 95% of potential readers are still unaware of the trick.
    You would think the NYT would drop this nonsense list, I guess the money is too good.
    Same with Trump, the man is a lucky thief.

    As for education, it gets you ready for the World or so it claims, not ready to question it, it is a personal choice later in life. Studies have shown the current system is detrimental to creativity, I am sure many well off families are not interested in creative thinking otherwise engineers would be running factories.

  23. gms777 says:

    I’m reading “The Sounds of a Wild Snail Eating.” It’s one of those very thin but very deep books. Author is paralyzed with a severe neurological disorder. A friend gives her a snail she found in the woods. And the author observes what seems like a ponderous beast, but it’s really fearless and tiresome and amazing creature…just like her.

    http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Wild-Snail-Eating/dp/1565126068

    I’m also reading a rapidly increasing number of articles saying that if we don’t get our US debt problem solved we’re going to get our asses handed to us.

    Also, a great in-depth profile of Herman Cain at NRO….http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/267029/introducing-herman-cain-robert-costa

    It would totally flabbergast the rest of the world if two black men ran against each other for President. It would also put the lie to those who said only racists voted against Obama. I had never heard of Cain until I saw him in the debate (a quick witted guy) and read this profile–a self-made man, Navy officer, former regional Fed chief, ex-CEO, cancer survivor, computer software/marketing expert. Whatever you might think of his politics, he is one impressive individual.

  24. VennData says:

    John Boehner Delivers the Commencement Address at The Catholic University of America…

    “Recently, I was asked if there’s a special prayer I say before going into meetings with the president. Well, I always ask God for the courage and wisdom to do his will and not mine. Serving others – that’s not just how I lead in the Congress, it’s how I lead my life.

    http://www.speaker.gov/News/DocumentPrint.aspx?DocumentID=241552

    God’s will is tax cuts for the rich? While cutting Medicare for everyone? Riiight….

  25. NeutralObserver says:

    The Tax Foundation debunks the WSJ article saying that that there’s no way to close our budget deficit by taxing only the rich. The Tax Foundation calls the chart “a textbook example of how to lie with statistics” and a “breathtakingly misleading image.” Just shows how Murdock has done for the WSJ what he did for the British press – turned it into a tabloid. Maybe the WSJ should have a page 3 girl.

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/27272.html